The Tudor Society
The Tudor Society
  • 19 April 1558 – Betrothal of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Francis, the Dauphin

    On this day in history, Tuesday 19th April 1558, fifteen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, became betrothed to fourteen-year-old Francis, the dauphin of France, the future Francis II.

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  • James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

    James Hepburn, 1st Duke of Orkney, 4th Earl of Bothwell and the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, was the son of Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell and Lord High Admiral, known as the “Fair Earl”, and his wife Agnes Sinclair, daughter of Henry Sinclair, 3rd Lord Sinclair. In 1556, on his father’s death, James became 4th Earl of Bothwell and Lord High Admiral of Scotland.

    In 1559/1560 Bothwell visited Denmark on the way to France and met Anna Throndsen (Anne Thorssen). He is alleged to have seduced and even married Anne but deserted her. In 1566, he married Jean Gordon, second eldest daughter of George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, but the marriage was not a happy one, as Jean accused Bothwell of adultery with her maid and seamstress, Bessie Crawford. The marriage was annulled in May 1567 on the grounds of consanguinity. Eight days after the divorce, Bothwell married Mary, Queen of Scots.

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  • Transcript of Mary, Queen of Scots live chat

    Here is the transcript of the lively discussion we had over the weekend about Mary, Queen of Scots. Thank you for all those who came as this turned out to be a very memorable discussion on such a fascinating character.

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  • Mary, Queen of Scots – live chat on Saturday 4 March

    We’re holding one of our informal live chats on the chatroom this Saturday. Regular contributor Heather R. Darsie will be moderating and you can ask her questions or simply pose questions for debate and discussion. Heather thought it would be nice to talk about Mary’s life after her return from France, but we can stray to her earlier life if you like. We can also discuss books, theories about her… whatever you like, it’s an informal chat.

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  • The tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots

    Thank you to regular contributor Heather R. Darsie for writing this article on the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Mary, Queen of Scots, lost her life on 8 February 1587. She was not buried for almost a full five months, finally being laid to rest on 5 August 1587 in Peterborough Cathedral. Peterborough Cathedral already had one queen buried there, namely Katharine of Aragon, buried in 1536.

    Peterborough Cathedral has an impressive history beginning in 655 BCE when the site was home to a monastery. During the years surrounding 1116, the bulk of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was written at Peterborough. Skipping ahead to 1530, Cardinal Wolsey celebrated Easter at Peterborough after he was sent into exile by Henry VIII. In 1536, Katharine of Aragon was buried at Peterborough. Mary, Queen of Scots, was buried at the cathedral, as mentioned above, as it was close to Fotheringhay Castle, where Queen Mary was beheaded.

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  • 10 February 1567 – Lord Darnley is murdered

    On this day in history, the 10th February 1567, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was murdered at Kirk o’ Field, Edinburgh, in the Royal Mile, just a few hundred yards from Holyrood House where his wife, Mary Queen of Scots, and baby son, the future James VI/I, were staying.

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  • 3 February 1587 – Elizabeth I’s Privy Council makes a decision about Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in 1587, the Privy Council met in William Cecil, Lord Burghley’s chambers at Greenwich and agreed to send Mary, Queen of Scots’ signed death warrant to Fotheringhay. Burghley appointed the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent to direct the execution, and the council agreed to keep Elizabeth in the dark until the deed was done.

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  • 8 December 1542 – Birth of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 8th December 1542, Elizabeth I’s nemesis, Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace in Scotland.

    Mary, Queen of Scots was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his second wife, Mary of Guise, and the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) and James IV of Scotland. On the 14th December, when she was just six days old, Mary became Queen of Scotland after her father died of a fever. She was crowned Queen on 9th September 1543 at Stirling Castle. As Mary was a baby, James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, acted as regent until 1554 when he surrendered the regency to Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, who acted as regent until her death in 1560.

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  • 7 December 1545 – Lord Darnley’s birth

    Lord Darnley

    As today is the traditional date given for the birth of Henry Stewart (Stuart), Duke of Albany and Lord Darnley, I thought I’d share this excerpt from On This Day in Tudor History.

    Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, was the son of Matthew Stewart, 13th or 4th Earl of Lennox, and Lady Margaret Douglas, and the grandson of Margaret Tudor and her second husband Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. He was born at Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, not long after the death of his older brother, also called Henry. Darnley is known for being the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots and for being murdered on 10th February 1567.

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  • The trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 14th October 1586, the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots began at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.

    Mary, Queen of Scots had, at first, refused to appear before Elizabeth I’s commission, but had been told by William Cecil that the trial would take place with or without her. She appeared in front of the commission at 9am, dressed in a black velvet gown and a white cambric cap and veil. Mary then protested against the commission, arguing that the court was not legitimate, and arguing against the fact that she was not allowed legal defence and was not able to call any witnesses.

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  • Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

    On 29th July 1565, Mary, Queen of Scots, married Henry Stuart (Stewart), Lord Darnley, at Holyrood Palace (the Palace of Holyroodhouse), Edinburgh.

    You can find out all about Mary, Queen of Scots, at our Mary, Queen of Scots Bio page, but who was the bridegroom? Here are a few facts about him:

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  • 24 July 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate

    On 24th July 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle and who had recently suffered a miscarriage, was forced to abdicate. The Scottish crown was passed on to her one-year-old son, James, who became James VI of Scotland, with his uncle, Mary’s illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, acting as regent.

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  • 1 July 1543 – Treaties of Greenwich

    On this day in 1543, the Treaties of Greenwich were signed. In these treaties between England and Scotland, it was agreed that Prince Edward, the future Edward VI, would marry Mary, Queen of Scots.

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  • 20 June 1567 – The discovery of the Casket Letters

    On 20th June 1567, a few days after Scottish rebels apprehended Mary, Queen of Scots, servants of James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, allegedly found a silver casket of eight letters, two marriage contracts (which apparently proved that Mary had agreed to marry Bothwell before his divorce) and twelve sonnets. The casket was found in the possession of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell and third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.

    What was important about these letters?

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  • 17 June 1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is imprisoned at Lochleven Castle

    On this day in history, 17th June 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle following her surrender to the Protestant nobles at the Battle of Carberry Hill on 15th June.

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  • The Scots Queen Surrenders: An Overview of the Battle of Carberry Hill 1567 by Heather R. Darsie

    By 15 June 1567, twenty-four-year-old Mary Stuart had been Queen of Scotland for almost her entire life; never knew her father, James V, because he died when she was six days old; was Queen Consort, then Queen, of France for less than seventeen months; had lost her mother in July 1560; was about to celebrate her son and heir’s first birthday on 19 June, and was married to her third husband. Mary’s first husband, King Francis II of France, died three days before Mary’s eighteenth birthday in 1560. Mary’s mother was dead for roughly five months when her first husband died. She married her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, when she was twenty-two. Mary gave birth to her only surviving child, James VI, during her marriage to Darnley. Darnley died, likely murdered, less than two years after the marriage, and Mary married her third husband, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Bothwell may have had a hand in the death of Mary’s second husband and there is speculation as to whether Mary indeed wanted to marry Bothwell or whether she was coerced into the marriage.

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  • 9 March 1566 – Murder of David Rizzio

    On this day in history, 9th March 1566, David Rizzio (Riccio), the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was stabbed to death in front of a heavily pregnant Queen Mary.

    But who was David Rizzio and what led to his murder?

    John Guy, historian and author of the excellent “My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots”, describes David Rizzio as a “young Piedmontese valet and musician, who had arrived in the suite of the ambassador of the Duke of Savoy and stayed on as a bass in Mary’s choir”. Mary obviously took a liking to Rizzio because in late 1564 she chose him to replace her confidential secretary and decipherer, Augustine Raulet, who was a Guise retainer and the only person who Mary had trusted with a key to the box containing her personal papers. Raulet, for some reason, had lost her trust.

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  • Elizabeth I and the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots Part 2

    In today’s Claire chats I continue my examination of the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots, by looking at the controversy surrounding the death warrant and examining the Bond of Association and the Act for the Queen’s Safety.

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  • 8 February 1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots is executed at Fotheringhay

    On this day in history, Wednesday 8th February, Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle, following the arrival of her death warrant at the castle the day before.

    Mary had been tried in October 1586 for her involvement in the Babington Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, and had been found guilty. Elizabeth I put off signing her death warrant, struggling with the idea of killing an anointed monarch, but finally signed the warrant on 1st February 1587, although Elizabeth claimed later that she ordered her secretary, William Davison, not to do anything with it for the time being. As I mentioned in my article on the death warrant, Elizabeth’s Privy Council met and agreed to send the warrant to Fotheringhay without the Queen’s knowledge. It is impossible to know exactly what happened. Did Davison misunderstand the Queen’s instructions and intentions? Probably not. Some historians believe that William Cecil, Lord Burghley, chose Davison to be a scapegoat because he realised that Elizabeth needed someone to take the responsibility for Mary’s death away from her, but others believe that it was Elizabeth who chose Davison as the scapegoat.

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  • Elizabeth I and the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots

    In this week’s Claire Chats I start a two part series on Elizabeth I and the fall of Mary, Queen of Scots. Today, I focus on what led to Mary, Queen of Scots’ execution and next week I will examine the controversy surrounding her death warrant.

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  • Bloody Queens: Elizabeth and Mary TV programme

    The BBC2 programme on Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, featuring historians and authors like John Guy, Jessie Childs, Tracy Borman, Lisa Hilton and the late Jenny Wormald.

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  • Bloody Queens: Elizabeth and Mary

    If you’re in the UK or have access to the UK’s BBC2 then make sure that you catch this programme on BBC2 today (1st February 2016) at 9pm. Here’s the blurb from the BBC:

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  • 1 February 1587 – Elizabeth I signs the death warrant of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 1st February 1587, Elizabeth I called her secretary, William Davison, to her and asked him to bring her Mary, Queen of Scots’s death warrant. She then signed it.

    Mary, Queen of Scots, had been tried in October 1586 for her involvement in the Babington Plot, a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. As the trial closed, Mary demanded that she should be heard in front of Parliament or the Queen, but she was fighting a losing battle. Sentence was delayed as long as possible, by order of Elizabeth, but on 25th October the commission reconvened and found Mary guilty. On 29th October, Parliament met to discuss Mary, the Babington Plot and her role in Lord Darnley’s murder, and it was decided that they should petition Elizabeth to execute Mary. This put Elizabeth in a difficult position as she did not want to be accused of regicide. On the 4th December, Mary was publicly proclaimed guilty.

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  • 14 October 1586 – Trial of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On this day in history, 14th October 1586, the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, began at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. Historian John Guy, author of My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, has written a brilliant chapter on Mary’s downfall, “Nemesis”, and I have him to thank for the information in this article.

    Mary Queen of Scots had, at first, refused to appear before Elizabeth I’s commission, but had been told by William Cecil that the trial would take place with or without her. She appeared in front of the commission at 9am, dressed in a black velvet gown and a white cambric cap and veil. Mary then protested against the commission, arguing that the court was not legitimate and arguing against the fact that she was not allowed legal defence and was not able to call any witnesses. Mary was also not permitted to examine any of the documents being used against her. Her protests were in vain and the prosecution went ahead and opened the trial with an account of the Babington Plot, arguing that Mary knew of the plot, had given it her approval, agreed with it and had promised to help. Mary protested her innocence:

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  • Transcript of Gareth Russell Live chat – end of Tudor era

    Here is the transcript of our chat session with Gareth Russell on Friday. The session was very wide ranging in its topics and I think we all learned a lot from Gareth’s knowledge.

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  • 24 July 1567 – The Abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots

    On 24th July 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle and who had recently suffered a miscarriage, was forced to abdicate. The Scottish crown was passed on to her one year-old son, James, who became James VI of Scotland, with his uncle, Mary’s illegitimate half brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, acting as regent.

    Claude Nau de la Boisseliere, Mary’s private secretary, recorded this event in his memoirs, which were translated from French into English as The History of Mary Stewart: From the Murder of Riccio Until Her Flight Into England:

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  • The Casket Letters

    On 20th June 1567, a few days after Scottish rebels apprehended Mary, Queen of Scots, servants of James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, allegedly found a silver casket of eight letters, two marriage contracts (which apparently proved that Mary had agreed to marry Bothwell before his divorce) and twelve sonnets. The casket was found in the possession of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell and third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.

    [Read More...]
  • Mary Queen of Scots

    Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace in Scotland on 8th December 1542. She was the daughter of James V of Scotland and his second wife, Mary of Guise, and the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister) and James IV of Scotland. On the 14th December, when she was just six days old, Mary became Queen of Scotland after her father died of a fever. She was crowned Queen on 9th September 1543 at Stirling Castle. As Mary was a baby, James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, acted as regent until 1554 when he surrendered the regency to Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, who acted as regent until her death in 1560.

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  • The Last Days of Mary Queen of Scots

    A six part series called “The Last Days of Mary Queen of Scots” starts this Thursday on Channel 5 in the UK. Here is the blurb from the Radio Times:

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  • 10 February 1567 – The Murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley

    On this day in history, the 10th February 1567, Lord Darnley was murdered at Kirk o’ Field, Edinburgh, in the Royal Mile, just a few hundred yards from Holyrood House where his wife, Mary Queen of Scots, and baby son, the future James VI/I, were staying.

    Henry, Lord Darnley, had been lodging at Kirk o’ Field while convalescing after contracting either syphilis or smallpox. What he didn’t know was that while he had been recovering his enemies had been filling the cellars of the house with gunpowder.

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